Leinster opt for Will Connors over Josh van der Flier ahead of quarter-final date with La Rochelle

Leo Cullen makes two changes to the starting XV which beat Leicester Tigers in last weekend’s round of 16 victory

Leinster have picked Jason Jenkins and Will Connors and reverted to a 6-2 bench for their Champions Cup quarter-final against La Rochelle on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium (5.30pm).

In what looks very much like a horses-for-courses selection, Connors makes just his third Champions Cup start - his first having come in Leinster’s quarter-final defeat to Saracens in 2020, the second in the 16-9 win over La Rochelle in the pool stages at the Stade Marcel Deflandre in December.

In the continuing absence of James Ryan, Jenkins is promoted from the bench, with Ross Molony and Josh van der Flier dropping to the replacements. The backline stays the same, which means Garry Ringrose has been ruled out with the shoulder injury which has restricted him to one appearance off the bench for Ireland against Scotland during the Six Nations.

Among the replacements, Michael Milne comes in for the injured Cian Healy, who thus will not establish a new record of 111 appearances in the competition. He currently shares that landmark with Ronan O’Gara on 110. The fit-again Luke McGrath comes in for Ben Murphy while Harry Byrne makes way as Ciarán Frawley covers out-half in the 6-2 configuration,


Despite the tie only having been confirmed last weekend, Just under 50,000 tickets have been sold for the game.

Meanwhile La Rochelle have promoted Irish secondrow Ultan Dillane to their starting XV ahead of Saturday’s clash. The former Connacht man joins Australian Will Skelton at lock, with Gregory Alldritt captaining the side in a backrow which also features Levani Botia and Judicael Cancoriet.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Antoine Hastoy once again form La Rochelle’s halfback pairing, with Jonathan Danty and UJ Seuteni lining out at centre. England international Jack Nowell is in the backthree alongside Teddy Thomas while Dillyn Lleyds starts at fullback in place of French international Brice Dulin.

Leinster: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Robbie Henshaw, Jamie Osborne, James Lowe; Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Joe McCarthy, Jason Jenkins; Ryan Baird, Will Connors, Caelan Doris (capt).

Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Michael Milne, Michael Ala’alatoa, Ross Molony, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Ciarán Frawley, Josh van der Flier.

La Rochelle: Dillyn Leyds; Jack Nowell, UJ Seuteni, Jonathan Danty, Teddy Thomas; Antoine Hastoy, Tawera Kerr-Barlow; Louis Penverne, Tolu Latu, Uini Atonio; Ultan Dillane, Will Skelton; Judicael Cancoriet, Levani Botia, Grégory Alldritt (capt)

Replacements: Quentin Lespiaucq, Alexandre Kaddouri, Joel Sclavi, Thomas Lavault, Paul Boudehent, Yoan Tanga, Teddy Iribaren, Ihaia West.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times